Black Lives Matter Sues Police Department Over Illegal Surveillance Based On First Amendment Activities

from the wrong-thing-targeted dept

Members of a New York “Black Lives Matter” group are suing the town of Clarkstown and its police department over illegal surveillance. The plaintiffs allege they were placed under surveillance by the Clarkstown PD’s Strategic Intelligence Unit (SIU) for a number of reasons, none of which were legal uses of the agency’s spy wares.

It would seem the lawsuit [PDF] has a good chance of paying off. Allegations of racial profiling and illegally surveilling citizens for their First Amendment activities are backed by the results of investigations and one police official’s own admissions.

A letter to the US Attorney’s office in New York, attached as an exhibit, bolsters the claims made in the BLM lawsuit. In it, Clarkstown town Supervisor George Hoehman details a long list of surveillance violations and other police misconduct.

According to the letter [PDF], the SIU began surveillance of members of a play entitled “A Clean Shoot?” performed by a group called “We the People.” The surveillance included constant monitoring of their social media profiles and the deployment of geofencing in hopes of capturing anyone else who might be involved with the group and/or the play.

The Clarkstown PD shared the information it gathered with the Haverstraw Police Department — information that included the results of searches of criminal databases. Clarkstown’s SIU “warned” Haverstraw the next production of the play would be in September, but noted that participants posed no threat of violence despite harboring “strong opinions.”

When setting up the geofences, Clarkstown PD lumped BLM and We the People members in with gang members, terrorists, and other more legitimate targets of police surveillance. This continued even though they were told (repeatedly) by the local district attorney’s office they should not have Black Lives Matter listed as a surveillance target.

In August 2016, the special prosecutor handling the investigation of this surveillance demanded Clarkstown PD hand over communications pertaining to its spying on the two groups. He never received anything. Instead, Police Chief Michael Sullivan deleted all of the data from his issued cellphone. He also allowed Sgt. Steven Cole-Hatcher (head of the SIU) to wipe his own cellphone and to delete possibly-incriminating files from his departmental computer. Sullivan was suspended for fifteen days. Cole-Hatcher was given the opportunity to retire. He’s now suing to get his job back and it’s his filings that have generated a lot of the evidence needed by BLM to successfully pursue this lawsuit.

The letter also alleges things unrelated to the BLM lawsuit, but equally disturbing. Local law enforcement officials have apparently engaged in election interference, surveillance of judges, and monitoring of the town supervisor’s social media profiles with the department’s surveillance software.

Much of what’s in the most recent lawsuit retreads allegations made previously. Fortunately, some of those allegations have already been sustained. The lawsuit pleads violations of the First and Fourth Amendment and seeks damages and injunctions against future unlawful surveillance.

Chief Sullivan has (unhelpfully) explained BLM and We the People weren’t singled out for unlawful surveillance. He stated “many other groups and individuals” were surveilled by the SIU — a statement he made without clarifying whether these others instances were for legitimate reasons.

Adding the latest allegations to those already sustained suggests local law enforcement agencies have more in common with cancerous growths than the “protectors and servants” ideal.

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Comments on “Black Lives Matter Sues Police Department Over Illegal Surveillance Based On First Amendment Activities”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

"They weren't singled out, we do that with everyone."

Chief Sullivan has (unhelpfully) explained BLM and We the People weren’t singled out for unlawful surveillance.

Well, if he’s going to assure people that no-one was singled out for unlawful surveillance, I guess that settles the matter. I mean it’s not like there’s any reason to doubt him, right?

In August 2016, the special prosecutor handling the investigation of this surveillance demanded Clarkstown PD hand over communications pertaining to its spying on the two groups. He never received anything. Instead, Police Chief Michael Sullivan deleted all of the data from his issued cellphone. He also allowed Sgt. Steven Cole-Hatcher (head of the SIU) to wipe his own cellphone and to delete possibly-incriminating files from his departmental computer.

Because nothing says ‘The surveillance we engaged in was lawful’ like mass-deletions of data following a demand for information regarding said surveillance.

As an aside, the fact that the above quote wasn’t ‘former Chief Sullivan’, and that Cole-Hatcher was given the ‘opportunity’ to retire rather than immediately fired and brought up on charges for obstruction and/or deletion of evidence in an active investigation is just all sorts of repugnant, and serves as yet another example of how eager various police group aren’t to hold their own accountable for their actions, so bravo to the both of them and their superiors for upholding the integrity of the force in such a sterling fashion.

Anonymous Coward says:

So much for rule of law

A hearing officer treated the intentional destruction of evidence as misconduct, rather than as a class E felony as proscribed by New York state law.

Anyone want to take a wager as to whether the same thing would have happened had it not been a police chief committing the felony? He should have lost his job entirely as a convicted felon and been placed on probation for 1-4 years.

The relationship between the police and the judicial system needs to be much more professional than it currently is. The current familiarity leads to miscarriages of justice such as this one and creates special classes of protected people instead of equal justice under the law as intended by our founders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Then you have realised nothing. America is in fact a police state.

po·lice state
pəˈlēs ˈstāt/
noun
noun: police state; plural noun: police states

a totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities.

Yes, we do have a totalitarian state controlled by a “very” political police force that likes to create “us” vs “them” political environments. Yes, they very much secretly supervise the citizen’s activities via Mass Surveillance, Cameras, GPS, ALPR’s, and stingray devices just to name a few.

You can be arrested for “anything” even while legally following the law to the fucking letter! The courts rarely provide remedies to abuse and are very much on record as stating they don’t give a damn about the constitution so long as all constitutional violations can fit into the “mind” of a judge and what they “individually” consider to be “good faith”.

No, this is a police state, we are just very nice most of the time about being one.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:

“You can be arrested for “anything” even while legally following the law to the fucking letter!”

Well, lets be honest here, there is no way to follow the law to the letter. You probably violated some crazy law just by posting that comment. Probably some old “swearing in public” law or something else crazy that is still on the books.

It is long over due that our government needs to start at page 1 and go through every single law either 1) trashing the law as no longer needed 2) revising it to make it clear without a ton of little footnotes where people added junk on over the years.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yea, just google for “crazy laws” and you’ll see there’s utterly no way to obey the letter of the law. Even where you live, there’s bound to be some local ordinance that was put in place years back by a politician who “needed to been seen doing something” about some crazy one-off event that was already covered by the law in the first place. Or a law bought by a company looking to prevent competition that winds up affecting everybody.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paradox

BLM SHOULD be a monitored group just like the KKK. Both are racist, one has just been racist so much longer!

Though it is pretty clear that law enforcement is out of control, but there was not any outrage when laws were broken way back when the government was trying to dismantle the KKK.

This is why it is VERY important to make sure that the folks you do hate do have rights, because if you are okay with taking peoples rights away just because you hate them… well then you deserve getting the same done to you when YOU become a person or group of interest.

This is nothing other than comeuppance folks. Sad yes, but true either way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Paradox

Sad? Yes, very sad!

Excuse? Not even close! Law Enforcement has been using every tool they have to oppress groups they classified as “undesirable”. How did they take down Capone? They even broke a lot of laws doing it, do you give a shit? I bet not, most people don’t care at all.

Right now, all sides in some fashion support the destruction of liberty to either punish, marginalize, or criminalize elements of other groups.

Yes, damn sad! But an excuse… you do not even realize how much your attitude perpetuates this mess!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Paradox

Well I am just sorry that your little mind is overburdened with looking at how the “cycle of violence” kinda feeds itself.

Someone does have to recognize it for what it is and take steps to stop it. Otherwise we only get a bunch of people like you.

They killed by father/mother/brother/sister so I am going to get them back!

Just another blind and ignorant idiot! Keep up the good work citizen, you will be flatten soon enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Paradox

Expected a response some what like this.
Not disappointed – would post again.

Yes, you are totally correct in that I am the one who is … ummm “little mind” & “blind and ignorant idiot”

…and then you seemingly predict that I will “Ad Hom now” completely overlooking your own silly words. How typical.

Not sure from where the killing stuff originates as I suggested nothing of the sort, apparently the desire for killing is in your head – you should seek help.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Paradox

“Not sure from where the killing stuff originates as I suggested nothing of the sort, apparently the desire for killing is in your head – you should seek help.”

If you failed to understand even that then you are either playing coy for a good troll or you are just simply too stupid or ignorant to engage in debate.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Paradox

I don’t recall BLM having lynched or encouraging the lynching of anyone. Nor do they burn crosses or otherwise terrorise people.

The movement has grown out of a fear that their people are considered vermin by LEOs. Given what I’ve seen in the news it’s hard to argue with them, particularly in light of the kid gloves treatment of Dylan Roof and the Aurora shooter. It seems the cops weren’t in fear of their lives where violent murderers were concerned. It’s the unarmed or possibly armed or admittedly armed that seem to bother them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Paradox

Your logic is corrupt in the extreme.

BLM is not excused from being racist just because the KKK has a much larger and longer history backing their racism.

BLM does not need to burn crosses, but they have already terrorized people by marching around and getting in everyone’s faces and antagonizing people.

“The movement has grown out of a fear that their people are considered vermin by LEOs.”

The BLM and the Police deserve each other. Both continue the cycle of escalation to the point where a war between them is inevitable. I live around Dallas where the police were murdered by BLM.

Look at the crimes statistics
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43

Yet the only “big deal” is the deaths that white folks cause. It is very clear they are racist, even when they are not nearly as racist as the KKK.

Racism will always be with us, it will never go away and only fool believes it will. But it is equally foolish to only talk about racism in a one sides direction we do in America. compared to a lot of other places in the world, America is very damn welcoming to multiple cultures!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Paradox

“I’m interested in the logic used here, please explain.”

I doubt you are truly interested in logic of any kind.

“No biggie … just make lots of off topic comments to feebly refute same.”

Comments were not off topic. Uttering a lie is a rejection of the truth. Is that simple enough for you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Paradox

“Oh no dem blacks are “marching around and getting in everyone’s faces” by demanding to stop being summarily executed by police.”

Ok, “Mr. Professor. I am not sure how to break this to you, but if they are being executed by the police, I doubt they will make it very far by appealing to a bunch of student studying in a library. There are far more useful avenues of protest, like say… the public square and being peaceable about it too. They could also gather their resources and sue for where they believe that have been wronged. They could focus their energies on following the police around like watch dogs and report on wrong doing.

Is this truly that hard for you to figure out “Mr. Professor”? Antagonizing your fellow citizens is not what an intelligent individual would class as a thing “to do”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Paradox

“I don’t recall BLM having lynched or encouraging the lynching of anyone. Nor do they burn crosses or otherwise terrorise people.”

Perhaps not yet, but give them time. There has been no greater recruiting tool for the KKK and the Nazi party in this country in the past 50 years than BLM. Their behavior during the DNC primary is probably what put Trump in office.

There is supporting civil rights, and there is stirring up shit to try and make a name for yourself. BLM is really loud. But they have zero victories and HUGE losses. So your welcome to determine for yourself which category they fall in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Paradox

“I wish we could move both of those groups to their very own island where they can sort their problems out away from the rest of civilization.”

But then the riche elite ruling class would have to find another lever to divide the population in order to maintain their strangle hold upon said civilization. Divide and conquer is the tried and true method used over millenia, you can’t expect them to all of a sudden start using a different method of repression as these things take time and patience, something they lack.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Paradox

“But then the riche elite ruling class would have to find another lever to divide the population in order to maintain their strangle hold upon said civilization.”

There are far too many levers for them to pull. There will always be a group of people covetous of another group, even when they have no reason to be.

“Divide and conquer is the tried and true method used over millenia,”

Agree, agree…

OA (profile) says:

Re: Paradox

BLM SHOULD be a monitored group just like the KKK.

The ideal (and the current reality) of BLM is explicitly ANTI-racist. It is a common tactic these days to promote swapping racism and anti-racism in social perceptions. This behavior is a more specific manifestation of a broader social behavior.

…there was not any outrage when laws were broken way back when the government was trying to dismantle the KKK.

"The government" is not some single monolithic, black-box entity. Even so, it may not be accurate to imply the KKK has been under any concerted gov’t based attack, ever. Trump is not even the first President to be openly sympathetic to the KKK; not even in just the last century.

I do agree that fighting wrong with more wrong solves nothing, really. However, connecting this concept to the KKK is dishonest (probably deliberately so).

Too many seem to only learn what allows them to deceive better – speak more effective falsehoods.

OA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Paradox

I don’t know of any connection between Trump and Hitler, though Trump’s father had connections to Nazis, apparently.

However, comparing Trump and Hitler is valid and reasonable. I never believed in the Godwin rule: a silly shortcut to actual reasoning.

Note: I did not mention Hitler and did not imply a connection.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Connecting Trump and Hitler

Although there are significant similarities, a more useful comparison would be between Trump supporters and members of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. Both are (were) outraged at the establishment enough they can’t discern viable alternatives. Both want scapegoats and radical action against them. Both are looking for easy answers to complicated problems.

Both feel their own outrage is righteous and that of others can’t be (since those other people aren’t really human) and both have a leader willing to express this sentiment to them.

The purge is already happening. It just hasn’t been mechanized yet.

OA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Paradox

How is saying all white people are racist any different from saying all blacks are criminals?

Note: I don’t understand how this connects to my comment, but I will tackle it.

In practice, the word ‘racist’ is a problem of confusion because it is used in so many ways. Because the word is socially powerful some distortions of the word are at least willful if not intentional. Virtually everyone who uses, hears or reads the word (and it’s derivatives) agrees that it is both powerful and negative, however.


I will start with a TRUNCATED and IMPROMPTU attempt at outlining [you can prefix ‘modern’ if you like] racism, derived socially and historically:

Racism is systemic. Which, in this context is not the same as institutional. Racism has three components:

Institutional – Schools, housing, health care, justice system, job market, wealth, law enforcement, banking…(seemingly forever)…

Social – Media portrayal, conformity mechanisms, subjective assessments, default handicap, fake meritocracy, "otherism", routine power imbalances…

Hearts and Minds (prejudicial) – eye of the beholder, fear, event interpretation, skill assessment, ethics by power, imagination, self-loathing, monopolize "goodwill"…


I’m going to add one non-outline item: The Siphoning Effect™:

When a subgroup has superior power that is systemically rooted (as described above) it will actively abuse the subgroup that makes up the remainder. Commonly the abuser (subgroup) will siphon from the abused, like a vampire. Except is not blood, it can be anything, eventually everything if not restrained. Including the abused’s humanity! Very few people have the stomach for all of what it takes to do this.
That is why the systemic nature of it is so important. It allows mental compartmentalization and self-delusion. It allows people to sustain it in the way they can handle, essentially "help where they can". Allows some to be "blissfully unaware" (but still sustaining). It allows some to easily defend it as "normal" or even "good", because those listening have been relentlessly exposed to compatible ideas. It allows some to modulate the severity of their acceptance to the level their conscious’s can bear. It allows some to object to parts of this system, yet accept other related parts; sometimes based on who benefits…

;TLDR

In our current racial environment neutrality is an illusion. The word racism and its derivatives can be used in many contexts, big or small, direct or nuanced. Now to the original question:

How is saying all white people are racist any different from saying all blacks are criminals?

Note: I don’t understand how this connects to my comment, but I will tackle it.

Saying all blacks are criminals is wholly absurd, and pure uncut racist. This use of the word ‘racist’ is simple and easy and acts like a hammer.
Saying all white people are racist is saying something that is impossible and I have NEVER heard someone say that. If one talks of racism in general and does not mention "white people" or some contextual equivalent then you are talking in dishonest gibberish. A common tactic is to hear "all white people" and then object. If this dishonesty is left unchecked it evolves into things like "reverse racism". Reverse racism is a racist Siphoning Effect. It siphons natural communally derived victim status.
When "white people" is used, the word ‘racist’ is NOT a hammer, but the hammer still lingers in the memory. A white anti-racist would understand.

I’ve run out of time, hopefully this is good enough. (The markdown formatting is off)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Paradox

Wow man, your over complicated examination is total bunk. If it was systemic, the slaves never would have been set free.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8UTj8lQJhY

Sorry, BLM and AntiFa are plenty racist, and given enough time we will find their rhetoric will spawn the same evils that KKK has. They just need to grow more members just like the KKK. And while YOUR racist groups keep lumping all whites into being racist with your “systemic racism” descriptions then you will only succeed in pushing non racist white folks towards the KKK or risk becoming 2nd class toadies for BLM and AntiFa movements where being white means you get no voice, just like a slave. But that is the objective right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Paradox

“The ideal (and the current reality) of BLM is explicitly ANTI-racist.”

Their actions and words clearly state otherwise. They are disruptive to people minding their own business and their reaction to police tyranny is to destroy communities and business.

“Even so, it may not be accurate to imply the KKK has been under any concerted gov’t based attack, ever.”

Not a friend of history eh? No shocker there, its about usual for commenters on TD to jump in feet first on subjects they feel strongly about but have no real clue about the history other than what they have been “hand fed”.

“Trump is not even the first President to be openly sympathetic to the KKK; not even in just the last century.”

So what? There is always a president that has been openly sympathetic to crappy movements. Trump is a turd and in all reality BLM helped get this ass-clown in office with their racist bullshit. White people that are not racist are tired of being treated like racists. Poor white people that know what starvation is like are tired to being treated like they have privilege that BLM claims that they have.

For a group of people “claiming” to be about equality, they sure and fuck do not mind painting whites with a broad brush. Hypocrisy wins few friends!

“I do agree that fighting wrong with more wrong solves nothing, really. However, connecting this concept to the KKK is dishonest (probably deliberately so).”

Then you DO agree that fighting wrong with wrong is a solution to problems.

“Too many seem to only learn what allows them to deceive better – speak more effective falsehoods.”

I am not the one trying to justify the wrong doing of any groups. YOU ARE! I am just saying both are wrong and you are defending one of them.

Good luck with the future war you are promoting, while claiming to not want one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: BLM ... just like the KKK

Why are people like you that stupid?

And why would you hope that any group would be violent just to prove a retarded point? I wish none of them were violent.

We all know that the KKK is a grandpa in crime and violence compared to the babes of BLM and AntiFa, but no matter what. If your solution to injustice is more of it, then fuck you!

BLM and AntiFa are going about this in a way that is going to GUARANTEE civil war!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: BLM ... just like the KKK

It’s not what I said.

BLM isn’t violent. But they’re reputed to be. Same with Juggalos.

I didn’t want Antifa to emerge. I’m not entirely upset they did because I’m genuinely afraid of our nations unflinching march toward white nationalism.

I’m willing to stay nonviolent and get overrun and processed than resort to violence. Antifa may be delaying the day I have to put that commitment to action.

I was hoping people would see Antifa’s violence and realize the ones who are actually peaceful weren’t. That being a monster is in your actions not your stripes.

Either they can’t see the difference, or more likely, they don’t really care.

Anonymous Coward says:

Black Lives Matter and their rhetoric strikes again? This coming after BLM leader Chanelle Helm’s ridiculous demands for white people to leave their homes to black people, for white people to start individual reparation accounts for black people?

Surveillance is not illegal, only what law enforcement does with that surveillance. When using that surveillance to prosecute someone, then it’s illegal. But, surveillance against someone isn’t illegal.

That’s the distinction that idiots and morons keep forgetting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Look, if you are really that stupid then I am fairly confident that you cannot be reasoned with. A warrant is required simply to gather anything that is private.

The only thing your attitude is going to do is to cause this mess to get out of hand. Hopefully, next time you run into a member of law enforcement that likes to just… follow you around and monitor everything you do. After all, it won’t be illegal unless they try to use it in a case against you.

Hopefully you don’t have a nice looking daughter either that gets caught in one of those surveillance dragnets. If the police are looking at it… criminals are too, because lets face it… they suck at technological security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The only time it is illegal is when law enforcement uses surveillance obtained without a warrant in a criminal trial.”

Nope. First you forgot torts. Second adjudication is not required for something to be a “crime”. Legally the definition fluctuates from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but you statement, is, by means of the exceedingly large number of exceptions, patently bullshit.

Perhaps being a little less smarmy will make you look a little less dumb when trying to help somebody.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are right, it is my fault that context was not properly established. Surveillance of “private actions or information” of any kind without a warrant is illegal.

I think it is clear that this article is discussing the surveillance of “private” details.

I support surveillance of the BLM and KKK, but it DOES need to be of the legal sort!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I suggest that it is the leos that are in need of 24-7 surveillance.”

The problem is that it never should have stopped.

The Price of Liberty is eternal vigilance. There will never be a time where someone somewhere in government will not be trying to abuse their authority.

The moment when someone thought that they could trust someone in government is where the downfall started… a long time ago.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

July 2, 1776

Is as good a date as any.

Read 1 Samuel 8. Israel asks for a king, because they rejected God. God said that you will have a king, bug you will suffer under the hand of that king, and the rest is history.

The founding fathers tried their best to setup a very different country, but they failed. They could not abolish slavery and build a new nation at the same time. They could not force the states to allow for a strong Central government as build a new nation at the same time. Instead they did what they could do, and hoped that the people would become more enlightened and resolve the rest.

We did not become more enlightened, we just splintered into a couple of political groups and set against each other. George Washington warned us that the nation would be damaged by political parties, we even suffered a Civil War over it already and we still did not learn.

People say that the civil war was about slavery, they are ignorant. War is only ever about power/resources in the form of property/land/people. The issue of slaves was just a cute way to get people motivated for war. The truth is simple.

No one actually gives a flying fuck about people suffering, if they did! A lot of people would be more than willing to crush places like North Korea right now. It’s just better to let an entire nation of people suffer and die rather than risk going to war with them.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 The Failed State of America

We’ve already long lamented that the US was made so that the power to change the system rests most in the hands of those who thrive on the status quo.

But the Civil War was about slavery. At its most abstract, the United States decided the exploitation of other humans as a labor resource was unconscionable. The Confederate States (giving them the most benefit of doubt) found that same resource was critical to their economy and not replaceable. The justification that blacks were simpler folk (which resonates with how aristocrats imagine serfs) was just the excuse to treat other human beings like crap.

Since then we’ve just passed on our shit jobs to other groups: share croppers, truck workers, new immigrants, children, undocumented immigrants, labor forces of other nations that keep labor rights in check. It’s still the same basis as slavery: cheap labor to keep costs down and profits up. Soon we’ll finally make the switch over to robots.

But we’ll still have equality issues, because no one who thinks they’re elite wants to imagine that they’re ordinary joes no better than those heathen darkies over there. Everyone has trouble considering anyone past their fiftieth Facebook friend as a human being.

It’s how the CBP officers sleep at night after rounding up anyone who looks like they might be illegal, denying them access to the outside or their records so they can’t prove they’re American (or legitimately in the US), and then deporting them to some random country to be snatched up by human traffickers. This is what we’re doing. This is how we’re continuing the great American tradition of culling the undesirables, and this is why future Americans will look at this era as a savage time in US history.

But fuck it, we’re a torture nation now. We massacre peoples with mercenaries and drone strikes. We are the bad-guy dystopian society with secret police and surveillance cameras and room 101. And you too will love Big Brother.

So the US should fall, that something less despicable crawl from its ashes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 The Failed State of America

“At its most abstract, the United States decided the exploitation of other humans as a labor resource was unconscionable.”

ha ha ha… people are STILL being exploited, you even state the same later in your own post, genius!

“But the Civil War was about slavery.”

Nope, most people really did not care, only the RICH people cared… the ones that counted and the ones that got to vote. Don’t forget that even poor white folks did not get to vote back then either… voting rights are not established in the Constitution until later. voting rights were all established by the States where they all had their own voting processes.

People just like to say “slavery” to act like the motivations of the north were “virtuous” while the south was not. There was nothing virtuous about the Civil War on either side! period! Lincoln was clear that he would not release any slaves if it kept the nation whole, the south said no anyway because they were stuck on slavery.

“Since then we’ve just passed on our shit jobs to other groups: share croppers, truck workers, new immigrants, children, undocumented immigrants, labor forces of other nations that keep labor rights in check.”

Bravo, this is where you contradicted yourself!

“But fuck it, we’re a torture nation now. We massacre peoples with mercenaries and drone strikes. We are the bad-guy dystopian society with secret police and surveillance cameras and room 101. And you too will love Big Brother.”

Nations are reflections of their people. If you are weak and easily oppressed, then you have an oppression state. If you cherish liberty and life then you will have that in a nation. America is a maelstrom of political vice and infighting, just as George Washington said we would become. Racism is just a tool to keep us divided and it works well. Every time a black person has a bad interaction with a white person they will view it as a product of racism, which of course pisses off a white person souring the relationship further.

“So the US should fall, that something less despicable crawl from its ashes.”

If the US falls it will generate a 3rd world war. I guess you don’t have any sense. I bet you don’t even know what real poverty is like.

I have went without food for 10 days, but I doubt even then I have had to endure the constant malnutrition and tyranny that many other people over the world have endured. America for all of its sins is nothing compared to many other nations and their histories.

Yes, I want to make America better, but if your solution is to reduce it to ashes for that… then you are scum!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 "Making America Better"

Nations are reflections of their people.

If you believed that, you wouldn’t want to make America better now would you? You wouldn’t think you could. Or is MAB something like MAGA, where your solution is to cull the bad influences? Send the darkies home again?

We build a civilization with the people we have, not the people we wish we had.

The people of the US are no better and no worse than any other, but we’re either going to have to change it violently, or resign to reforming it over centuries, meaning we’ll never see significant change in our own lifetimes.

Are you saying you’re willing to give up your lifetime so that your descendants may be free in a couple of centuries? Assuming they’ll reliably continue the work? I hope the species lives long enough to see it. We won’t. Regardless, I wasn’t proposing a solution, I was suggesting the US isn’t going to change into an equal, liberal system on its own. Not peacefully.

Incidentally, the civil war was about slaves. Not slaves as in general human servitude but slaves, the stratum, as opposed to serfs or freemen or liege lords. Before the US, Europe had abolished slavery, but their slaves were only promoted to serfdom… which were still humans in bondage. They just had a few more rights than they did before.

Both the US and Europe are still societies of human bondage, and so long as we are, the matter of true human equality, of suggesting that no group should have more rights or privileges than another, will be challenged.

I don’t think it’s a solvable problem. I’m not sure even if we had a revolution and a constitutional convention that we could fix it. We’d have to be able to convince the bigoted and apathetic masses to govern themselves despite themselves. That may not be feasible.

But you seem to be offended at (what you thought were) my solutions. Feel free to offer up some of your own. Now that you’ve established I’m not brilliant, show me that you, in fact, are.

OA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

…BLM leader Chanelle Helm’s ridiculous demands..

BLM does not have leaders.

Surveillance is not illegal, only what law enforcement does with that surveillance. When using that surveillance to prosecute someone, then it’s illegal. But, surveillance against someone isn’t illegal.

Absurd. This is no more meaningful than mashing my palm on the keyboard: y4on[r’thowm. See!

The assessment of surveillance involves the rights, concerns and dignity of the WATCHED, not the watchers. That comment also mis-uses (probably deliberately) the concept of the Neutral (I’m struggling for the right word) Tool: aka, a tool that can be equally used for "good or evil". Surveillance is not something that happens as some kind of benign default setting.

The Internet is being drowned in know-nothing know-it-alls, trying to make non-sense seem knowledgeable.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If they weren’t doing things that would concern people, they wouldn’t have to monitor officials with the power to hurt them.

Its just a few bad apples, but it appears the entire department was aware of what was happening. Using resources to spy on political rivals, ignoring the DA saying no.

Perhaps its time we demand there actually be real punishments handed out. He deleted evidence of his involvement in illegal operations & now is suing demanding to get his position back. Sadly that is far to common of an occurrence in this country, discipline over-ridden by contracts & unions putting someone who broke the law while charged with upholding it back in place to continue thinking the law doesn’t apply to them.

Imagine what would happen if a city decided to say they had no confidence in the current police department & shit can everyone & tried again. If you knew you would actually get fired with no take-backsies for violating the law, perhaps you might stay on the right side of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

The thing is, people here are missing the point. The legal of actions committed by police are determined by how the police actions are used in a court of law.

For instance, let’s say that I’m a police officer and I decide to conduct surveillance of any person. Whether or not I have a warrant to commit to such an action is besides the point, it’s if I decide to use that surveillance in a court of law.

If my surveillance happens to capture the individual doing something illegal, then I cannot use that surveillance in a court of law because I did not have a warrant for such surveillance. The court would be quite correct in ruling that the “evidence” I collected during my surveillance would not be admissible in a court of law because I violated the due process of the person I was conducting my surveillance.

Nobody here is seeing past the “either it is or either it isn’t” argument and that’s where the problem lies. There are gray areas in this debate and you can;t take the “yes or no” approach.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“The legal of actions committed by police are determined by how the police actions are used in a court of law.”

The legality of police actions are not determined by how said actions are used in court, that is silly.

“Whether or not I have a warrant to commit to such an action is besides the point”

No – actually that is the point

“it’s if I decide to use that surveillance in a court of law.”

I suppose it depends upon what you did in order to obtain said surveillance. For example, installing webcams in restrooms is likely to get you in trouble whereas a simple stakeout would not.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The thing is, people here are missing the point. The legal of actions committed by police are determined by how the police actions are used in a court of law.

That is very wrong, from a Constitutional perspective.

Let’s put it in terms of murder: if a person commits a murder that is never discovered, did a crime occur? Of course it did, an it occurred at the time of the act. The act was always criminal; it does not become criminal only when discovered.

Likewise, civil rights violations are crimes that occur at commission…not when some court later happens to discover the violation.

"It’s only illegal if you get caught," the criminal opines. The LEO agrees…and that is a very sad state of affairs.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The legal of actions committed by police are determined by how the police actions are used in a court of law.”

And somehow even when the clearly violate the law in a way that would land us mere mortals in jail, they get the good faith exception that them deciding a law said something it did not gave them a reasonable basis to violate a citizens rights.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.

"What sort of people live in the next town?" asked the stranger.

"What were the people like where you’ve come from?" replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

"They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels."

"Is that so?" replied the old farmer. "Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. "What sort of people live in the next town?" he asked.

"What were the people like where you’ve come from?" replied the farmer once again.

"They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them."

"Fear not," said the farmer. "You’ll find the same sort in the next town."

The moral of the story: If you come into Techdirt’s comment section and try to claim that you’re the only smart one and that all the rest of us are the stupid ones for not being lying racists… then perhaps some self-reflection is needed.

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